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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taking Stock

2008 will be coming to an end in a few hours.

While the passing of the year would probably be apathetic for me, I I can't help but feel a strong sense of achievement in reflecting the past year.

For one, I had many 'firsts' in 2008 as far as outdoor activities are concerned. I've managed to take part and complete two Penang Hill hiking competitions, the half marathon in the Penang Bridge Run, Starwalk, and not to mention my adventures in Mulu and Bario.

Secondly, 2008 is also the year that I took an active role in exercising political/citizen responsibility. I enjoyed the political rallies that I attended. But most important of all (and probably the most embarrassing as well), I voted for the first time! And without any regret on the outcome. Ha ha ha...

Re-doing the furniture setting in my apartment is also something that I'm very happy with. It feels much cozier now. All the trouble and hassle in lugging the furniture shelves, chairs and table from IKEA was worth the effort.

2008 also marked the start of a private endeavour that I've embarked on. 'Private' because it is something that I'd like to keep a low profile on. While it is sucking a lot of my time and is quite a heavy financial burden, I'm actually enjoying it (at least most of the time). But on the other hand, I can't wait for it to be over and done with either. Contradictory? Maybe.... :)

One more thing that I'm happy and grateful for is getting back in touch with a bunch of old friends both from school and uni (thanks primarily to Facebook), and also in making new friends over the year.

So, what's next for 2009?

While it is not a new year resolution, here's a list of items that I hope to accomplish in the coming year...

1) Keep up with the outdoor activities, and to pick up mountain biking.

2) Make good progress in my 'private endeavour' :)

3) To put more effort and start the activities rolling on my house.

4) Upgrade my photography skills and get some more serious gears.

5) Continue to embark on more adventures (maybe to finally make my trip to Cambodia???)

6) Sustain and improve my physical, mental, emotional, social and career health. (Seems like a very weighty sentence, right???)

7) And... to continue updating this blog!



Wish me luck!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Under The Big Tree

During the long Christmas weekend while I was back in Ipoh, I had lunch at a place Ipoh folks call 'Tai Shu Kiok' - literally meaning 'at the feet of big trees'. The name is quite apt, as the tables were set out within a grove of shady trees.

I had not been there for quite a while, and was surprised at the changes there. For one, a hawker centre has suddenly sprung up next to it. Although it was doing relatively good business as well, it does not seem to have affected the original shop as it was just as crowded.

Secondly, plastic 'canvas' canopies now cover the entire area under the trees. While it is probably good for practical reasons, i miss the time when it was all open air. I miss the 'torpedoes' of falling leaves and twigs everytime the wind blows.

Anyways, most importantly the food has not changed. I could still have my laksa bee hoon (yes, bee hoon) there. Ipoh remains the only place i've found that i could have laksa with bee hoon, (just the way i like it). I don't fancy the thicker noodles that normally accompanies laksa dishes.

Plus the large variety of 'stuffed snacks' or 'liu' as we call it in cantonese is just marvelous. Add to the fact that everything is freshly fried at the stall itself, the entire lunch was just amazingly mouth watering and very much satisfying. I guess that is why the place is so popular. I was there at about 2pm, and the place was still packed with the lunch crowd...

This remains as one of my favourite makan places of all times. Compared to this, I just can't understand what the fuss about 'Ampang Yong Tau Foo' is all about...


Delicious stuff just waiting to be fried...







Yummy Stuff...










The lunch crowd...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Noisy Fridge

After putting up with the annoying rattling noise from my refrigerator for so many months, i finally tried to do something about it.

So one fine Saturday morning, i pulled the fridge out and turned it around to access the back of the fridge where it noise was coming from.

As it turned out, the noise was not from the motor or compressor as I had long suspected. The rattling noise was from the vibration of the refrigerant piping when the compressor was running.



Or actually, the rattling sound was from one of the noise or vibration dampers that were placed on the piping. After so many years of operation, one of them had come loose and started rattling happily away. All it took to get rid of the noise was to shift the damper back into its place with some force to ensure that it stays there.

Simple action, big results. Now I can watch TV in peace. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A selfish umbrella

A couple of days ago, i walked walking to the carpark with a colleague after work. As we reached the company's side door, we realized that it was drizzling.

My fren then pulled out a small umbrella from his bag. The umbrella was the small, multi-fold type. As it was just large enough to cover one person, my fren called it a 'selfish umbrella' as he can't share it with me.

Hmm... is the umbrella that is selfish or the person that is?
Just joking... this macho man's not afraid of a little rain!

:)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back To Training....

I have finally signed up for the Penang Bridge Run that will be held on Nov-16. This had always been something that I had wanted to do ever since i relocated here. Well, at long last I've made a firm commitment to it only in my 7th year here. {Has it really been that long????}

Anyway, since the organizers operated a registration counter right in QueensBay Mall, it was pretty convenient. Sign up to race while you shop. :)

I had a chat with the man operating the counter, and apparently the response has not been very good. So far, only about 4000 folks have signed up. The organizers are targeting to get 10,000 participants. So for those who have not signed up yet, please hurry up. For those who have, pls pass the word around.

Yesterday evening, I had sort of a 'trial' run of what my fitness level is now. Especially since i have not been very active in the past 2 months. Well, lets just say that i have lots and lots of training to go to get my fitness level up many many times over to tackle the 25km run.

I've never been a runner, and has never been keen on it. I'm more into a 'slow and steady, endurance' kind of sports like hiking, swimming (leisurely) and walking. Yesterday, I managed to walk briskly 5 times round the field near my place with not much effort. But after running just one round, my heart was already pounding. Lot of training to do....

Too bad they don't have a Penang Bridge Walkathon or something like that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Procrasti... what?

Procrastination.

I've fallen into a deep hole of procrastination for the past few weeks.
And it explains the 'stale' state of this blog.

I've always been a procrastinator. (hmm.. or perhaps it is just plain laziness?).
But the past few weeks have been bad. I had many things set out that i wanted to do, but till now it remains just that... things i want/need to do.

How to improve? Keeping a to-do list comes to mind, but what if i even procrastinate to keep it updated? :)

Ha ha.. perhaps i need to get some self-help or time-management books.
Oops... that reminds me: I have bought a few books that is still waiting to be read. Sigh!!!


I guess first things first... I have now psyched up myself to complete all that i have planned to do. So I'll be keeping myself busy for the next few weeks. Hopefully the motivation holds up.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flippity Flap down Penang Hill

I wasn't too happy with my hike up Penang Hill last week. So this morning I revisited it a gain in an attempt to improve my time and feel better about myself.

This time around, I started at the Moon Gate rather than tackling the tar road head on. The weather was great. Cool and windy. And I was making good time too, but alas... as I was about to reach the 84 stop point, my shoe gave way. The sole came off.



So 'flap, flap, flap'... That was how I made my way back down. But halfway through, I was so annoyed with it that I ripped the whole thing off.

Damn! And this is the same pair of shoes that I use for court games and for gym as well. I guess all these activities will have to halt till I get a new pair. Any sponsors out there? :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Insufficient Iron...

I went to Adventist Hospital with Chiang Mei and Vincent with the intention to donate blood.

Unfortunately, after drawing some blood for analysis, the nurse came back to be with the news that I only have sufficient hemaglobin for myself, and not enough to donate.
Hence I had to stay at the lobby area while Chiang Mei and Vincent went on with their blood donation.

This is the first time that I have not been able to donate blood. Was a total surprise to me. Hemaglobin.. how to get more of it? I guess one main component would be to get more iron into my body. Searching the web, i came across the site http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthissues/irondeficiency/



Seems like i'll hv to reconsider my food choices. Not an easy task as I eat outside most of the time.

But the big big bad news is.... I'll hv to cut down on my coffee consumption. According to the same website:




How to survive without coffee????

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Five minutes too late...

This morning, I joined the Penang Hill Climb competition organized by Kwong Wah Yit Poh. The climb starts from Youth Park and ends at the top of the hill.

The number of participants was astounding... much more than the Hikathon which I participated a few months ago. But a very large percentage of the participants were school kids, so it reminded me of my school time cross-country events. :)

YB Lim Guan Eng made the special trip to the Youth Park to flag off the competition. I guess his popularity is still very high among Penangites as there were thunderous claps when everyone saw him. A few even tracked back to snap photos with him.

We took the tar road all the way so the climb was a bit mundane, but it was challenging as there were many steep sections. The first part was (up to 56) was particularly challenging, which left many of us (myself including) gasping for breath as we took a rest. After an arduous climb, with numerous rest stops in between... I did make the whole climb up to the top. In 125mins... 5 mins later than the 120mins limit set by the organizers for certification. What a bummer!!!

{I did get a cert, actually... maybe I looked so pathetic that the officials took pity, or maybe the officials just gave out all the certs that they have already printed to everyone who completed the climb. I strongly suspect it is the latter).

But looking back, I only have myself to hold responsible for being 5 minutes too late. I managed to push myself to complete the task, but apart from the sore thighs from the steep sections, I also had to battle a lot of negativity can cropped up in my mind. At one point, I was already planning to give up when i reached 84. I even thought of a title for the entry in my blog... "Tackled 56, Defeated at 84". Sounds catchy, right?

But anyway, the point I wanted to make was that I have the willpower to attain what I have aimed. But not a strong enough mind to banish the negative thoughts that arose in the process of achieving what I have set out.

In retrospect, I achieved my goal of reaching the top. With or without the negative thoughts of giving up. Wouldn't it have been a better achievement had I maintained the confidence of reaching my goals throughout the process? 5 minutes is not a long duration. I could have easily shaved it. I wouldn't have taken so many rest stops or the rest stops could have been shorter had I not had to battle the devils in my mind.

And I would have returned being more proud of my cert.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Part 1: Mulu National Park and the Pinnacles!!!

To get to Mulu, we first had to find our way to Miri. We took an AirAsia flight to Miri and then a MasWings flight from Miri to Mulu

Enjoying a cuppa on the plane


Arriving at Miri Airport


We spent a total of four nights in Mulu National Park. 2 nights (the first and the last) at the HQ, and 2 nights at Camp 5 (for the Pinnacles Trail).

Upon arrival at Mulu, we hopped on to a run down van which served as a taxi to get from the Airport to the HQ. We opted for the budget accommodation at the HQ. For those with more dough to spare, there is always the higher class Royal Mulu Resort.

At the Entrance of Mulu National Park HQ


After settling in at the HQ at about 11am, there wasn't much to do as our first cave trip/adventure will only start at 2pm. All tours at Mulu National Park has to be accompanied by Park Guides, and cannot be undertaken by individual groups.

While waiting, we just lazed around the HQ, which houses a well equipped information center. There is a souvenir shop and cafeteria there as well.

Right about 2pm we all gathered at the Main office for the start of our trip to the Deer Cave and Bat Cave. We were first briefed by our guide who was named (you'll never guess it)... 'Undi'! Honest, that's his name.

Undi the guide, giving a short briefing


From the main office, it took us about an hour to walk to the entrance of the Deer and Bat cave. But the trail was easy as the park has put up a raised platform all the way.

The caves were amazing... The expanse of it was just outstanding. As expected, it was dark, cool and not to mention, damp inside the cave. But it was well lit, highlighting amazing limestone features. The amount and variety of the stalactites, stalagmites were outstanding! Not only that the features on the limestone were very interesting as well. But I guess nothing beats the famous 'Abraham Lincoln' limestone formation!

Amazing cave formation


The famous 'Abraham Lincoln' of Mulu


We had very much looked forward to viewing the exodus of bats from the caves that evening. It was said that the bats will swarm out from the cave in the thousands each evening. But alas, due to the rains, the bat decided to stay put in the cave that evening and we left feeling disappointed.

The next morning, we packed up to head for pinnacles trail challenge. We have to make our way to Camp 5 first. The Pinnacles trail takes a full day and that is the reason that we had to spend the night at Camp 5 before waking up early to tackle the climb the next day. From the HQ, we all hopped into a long boat.

All set in the long boat


There is no cafeteria at Camp 5 although a well equipped kitchen is available. It is expected that guests will prepare and cook their own food while staying at the Camp. Unfortunately, we did not find out about this till we were already in Mulu. So we had no choice but to make a stop at one of the villages along to way to stock up on food. And I must warn that the prices of things in Mulu is jacked up like mad! We should have brought in our supplies from Miri. It would have been much much cheaper.

Stocking up at the village store


But that being said, we were still very grateful that we could actually stock up. Else we will have to endure having to live of just the snacks and energy bars that we brought. I guess we really had to count our every single one of our blessings.

On the way, we also stopped at two more caves... Wind Cave and Clearwater Cave. The highlight was a underground river that runs through the Clearwater Cave.

A river that runs through the cave



After going through some shallow waters, we finally arrived a Kuala Litut. Here, we had to continue on foot to Camp 5. We unloaded our stuff (including the supplies that we just bought) and proceeded to hike for 8km to reach Camp 5. Luckily, the trail was quite flat (although we had to be vary of leeches that lurked around). But with a heavy load on our backs, it was still quite a challenge.

Camp 5, our home for the next two nights




Camp 5 is built on a clearing by a river. The view is very picturesque, with mountain ranges on both sides. When we arrived, there was a large group of hikers already there. Apparently, they were from an adventure club based in KL. The started their climb up to the pinnacles that morning, and some of them had already made the trip down and were relaxing at the camp. We chatted with them for a while, and they shared some of their experience of the hike. It really sounded tough!

That evening, there were some commotion at Camp 5 as 7 members of the adventure clubbers were not back yet, despite it being dark already. And the cold rain didn't help at all. Those back at the camp were starting to get worried.

Our guide for the trail the next day, came over to our room and gave us a short briefing. The message from him was loud and clear... the pinnacles trail, although only 2.4km long, is very steep and TOUGH!!! And the hike down is much more challenging that the hike up. He really made us nervous with stories about the hikers who were still not back yet. The trail is rocky, and full of intertwined tree roots. This makes it a very difficult hike down. And it being wet and dark makes it a thousand times worse.... After that 'pep talk' we all got nervous and went to sleep (it was only 8pm that time) determined to wake up early to start the hike so that we don't get trapped up there.
{Fortunately, by 10pm all the previous hikers made it back to the Camp).

The next morning, two guides (Joseph and Andrew) led our team up to the Pinnacles. True enough, the trail was very challenging. For much of the first parts, the trail was steep, and rocky. I had to stop to catch my breath every now and then. After about 2 hours, we reached the 2km mark. It also marked the start of the 'vertical' route. Here, the trails is extremely steep and full of precarious sharp rocks. We had to use ropes, ladders and courageously step over steel bars that function as bridges over deep ravines. I refused to allow myself to weigh in how dangerous it was at that time, but looking back... it really was. One mis-step will cause severe injury. Plus you will still have to make your own way back down the steep trail to get help. What a challenge....

The tough climb up


Catching my breath



Start of the vertical climb


A warning.. please heed


Waiting for my turn at the ropes


A precarious bridge. Slipping brings dire consequences!


But I am glad to say, that all of us successfully made it to the top, to enjoy the breath-taking view of the famous pinnacles. The Pinnacles are natural limestone formations, shaped by nature. After partaking our lunch there, and snapping lots of photos, we proceeded to make our trip down.

And just as everyone said, the trail down is much worse or challenging than the trail up. As the whole mountain is basically just rock, there is not flat area or leaves to cushion your step. We either had to step on rocks or tree roots. After a while, it really felt like every step that I took was a foot reflexology. It was torturous! Just imagine a 3 hour foot reflexology with a super master, and you will get an idea of what i mean.

Hurray, we have reached the peak!


Playing a fool up at the peak


Breath-taking views of the Pinnacles


I was so exhausted and my muscles so over-used that once back at the Camp, I just sat at the bench and didn't move an inch for more than half an hour!!!
But once recovered, I was rewarded with a cool, refreshing bath in the river...

Dead tired!


So, was the view of the Pinnacles worth the pain and exhaustion? Arguably yes (maybe?). Is the pain worth the confidence booster of "if i can do this trail, i can certainly do 'that'"? Definitely, a thousand times YES!

The victorious gang who conquered the Pinnacles


We spent the night, all sleeping like babies at Camp 5 that night. But the next morning, we all woke up to a severe case of muscle-aches all over. But despite that, we still had to carry our backpacks and make the 8km hike out of Camp 5 where the long boats were waiting to take us back to HQ.

That evening, we braved our muscle aches to make the 1 hour walk to the bat observatory. And we were rewarded with the amazing view of bats swarming out of the cave. It was a truly spectacular sight that is not to be missed!!!


video
video

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Part 2: Adventures in Bario

We took a MasWings twin otter which sits less than 15 passengers from Miri to Bario. It was definitely the smallest plane I have ever been on. At the check-in, we even had to weigh ourselves (together with hand-carry luggage) to ensure that the plane is not overloaded!

Weighing myself at the check-in counter


The mighty Twin Otter


Bario, here i come...


Cramped in the plane


The plane is very small. As I was seated right behind the pilot and I could see him at work with all the switches throttles and all. The flight was smooth, although I got a bit nervous as we approach the Bario Highlands as the mountains seemed to get nearer and nearer as we climbed up.

Pilot hard at work


After landing, we disembarked only to be greeted by, guess what? ‘Buffalo-pies’ on the runway!

Pies on the runway!



Quite coincidentally, Nancy, who runs a guest-house in Bario was on the same flight with us. So we saved quite a bit of time (and ‘leg-work’) in searching for a place to stay. Nancy was at Miri to stock up, so her pick-up truck was already waiting at the airport for her. After her helpers loaded up her items (and there were really lots of stuff) onto the back of the truck, we put our backpacks there as well, got into the truck and started a really bumpy ride to here place.

Chit Chatting with Nancy



The roads were really soft and muddy at places due to the recent rains, so the ride was very, very bumpy especially once we were off the main road.

Nancy's Guest-House

Once at the guesthouse, we met with Nancy’s sister, Freda and her husband who were visiting Nancy. After resting for a while, Nancy led us to our rooms and showed us where everything was as well.

The guesthouse is nice, clean and very comfortable/homely. Which was great, especially after the few nights that we toughed it out at Mulu.

The Dining/Living Area


The Bedroom


Another bedroom


Shower



After a quick lunch, Nancy took us to the Bario school where we hiked up a small hill that gave a breath-taking overview of the Bario region (valley?).

View from top of the Hill


Enjoying the view with Freda, and Soo Sean


Three contestants for Mr/Ms Bario... Ha ha




After snapping photos here and there, we proceeded to look for the Penan folks (who are wanderers and do not stay put or raise permanent huts). On the way, we were distracted by a couple of kids who were not camera-shy at all. Both of them were so cute!

With a couple of adorable kids


After a short walk, it started to rain, so we quickly put on our raincoats and dashed across muddy grasslands (led by a boy we showed us where the Penan had put up their huts). Once there, the Penans were gracious enough to offer of their huts to us so that we can get some shelter from the rain. The Penans have quite attractive features… Fair, big eyes, etc…

Seeking shelter from the rain at a Penan Hut


All huddled together to keep warm from the rains


Once the rain stopped we took some pictures and headed back to the guest house. After bathing and cleaning up in a cold, cold shower, we were treated to scrumptious dinner. I especially liked the pineapple curry!

The electricity grid does not reach up to Bario, so each household has a generator for electricity. But since running the generator is quite expensive (especially with the recent hike in fuel prices), the generator is only run for a few hours a day… probably from 6pm to 10pm. After dinner, we just sat around the living room chatting with Nancy and Freda. When it got too cold, we proceed to bed at ~8pm. Drifting off to la la land amidst the sounds of crickets and frogs was a very different and pleasant experience!

The next morning, we were woken up by the cock-a-doodle-do of the rooster at about 6am. After a breakfast of noodles, eggs and sausages, we went to the Bario town center. The town center was a meeting place of sorts. There were stalls selling food, souvenirs, and forest produce as well. It seemed to me that everyone in Bario knew almost everyone there. All around we see folks greeting each other with such familiarity that we will never observed here, even in small villages.


Misty views from the guest-house in the morning... breath-taking!



Breakfast


At the market, we met with a couple of teachers (originally from Kuching) who were now posted to the Bario high school. We chatted a bit, and then headed back to the guest house.


'Central Market' at Bario




Soo Sean with Jeannette (who operates a stall at the market)



After that, we just sat around the veranda, lazing around; looking at the workings toiling the rice fields and how Nancy’s husband, Harris, was re-fitting some new toilets with the help of their workers nearby. Then Freda brought out some home-made pineapple wine made by Nancy. It was deliciously sweet! Hands down, it wins over Singapore Sling anytime…

Delicious Pineapple Wine


New toilets in the making



Soo Sean trying out the hammock... Is she praying??? Ha ha



After lunch, we started our hike to the salt-spring. One of Nancy’s workers, Lian (whom i befriended along the way) was our guide. It took us about 2hrs to reach the salt spring. The salt spring looks just like a well, but the water from it is of course, salty. The Bario folks collect the water and boil them for more than 12 hrs to reduce them to salt crystals. Too bad, no one was there making salt at the time. So we weren’t able to see the whole process. But looking at the items in the hut, and with some explanation from Lian, it is not too hard to imagine what it takes to produce the salt.

On the way to the Salt Springs


Make sure you take the correct turn at the junction!!!


Lian leading the way


Me, "kelentong'ing" with some folks we met on the way.


At the salt-spring with Lian


The hut where the salt are made


The stove





On the way back, we stopped by the house of a salt maker and manage to buy a few salt sticks (packaged like a dodol, actually). After that we visited a Kelabit Long House where an elderly couple was making floor mats. While Lian chatted with them, we had a good look around the long house. It was of course, long…. There were no partitions within the long house, but you can sort of work out where the different ‘sections’ are as there were a few fireplaces or kitchen laid out along one side of the wall. Soo Sean bought a nice hand-made floor mat from the elderly Kelabit lady before we left.

Pa' Umor Long House


Inside the long house


The kitchen



An elderly Kelabit couple


Kelabit Mat Weaving



Trying to help with the weavi
ng




On the way back, we also stopped by a pineapple plantation where Lian went straight in to get some pineapples for us. Good chap! I guess he is quite a picky person as well, as he wandered very deep into the plantation before reappearing with three scrumptious looking pineapples. I of course (at Lian’s instruction), stayed back at the front of the plantation since I was only wearing shorts and would not have been able to handle the sharp spikes on the pineapple leaves grazing my legs. But Lian was wearing shorts as well, so I guess his skin might be thicker than mine…. However, he did complain about his legs hurting a bit when he came out. But my mind was too fixated at the juicy pineapples to heed him much. Sorry!

At the pineapple plantation


The juicy Bario Pineapple


Me, doing hard labour washing the boots after the hike



Of the hike to and back from the salt spring, I enjoyed the company of Lian more than anything else. We chatted along the way; it was a long way. He shared with me some highlights of the lifestyle of the folks there; like how one would have to be on the best behaviour and keep a good impression prior to marriage to ensure that the community will only have good comments about you. He also shared stories from his experiences in guiding some westerners through jungle treks. We had a good laugh when he described how he had to ‘pujuk’ or coax some of them (especially those that were in the ‘heavier than ideal’ category) with flowers and garlands to get them to continue to move when they got too tired, sat down and started crying!

Along the way, Lian also showed me some wild jungle fruits that were edible. We plucked and tried a few of them. Most were sour, but one was surprisingly sweet. Lian called them 'Strawberry Kampung'. ha ha.. Apparently that particular fruit also helps when you have a stomach ache. I also learned how to tell when it is 6pm in the jungle, without the aid of a watch. There is a particular noise made by crickets right around the time of 6pm. Interesting... I've heard the sound while in Mulu, but had never associated it with anything particular till Lian mentioned it.

In turn, I described to Lian, the lifestyle of us pampered city folks... Going to work, getting stuck in traffic, the Penang Bridge, etc… Lian said he cannot understand why people would want to be live in the city. He said he gets a neck ache from having to look out for incoming cars when he visits Miri. He also seemed quite curious about time zones when I mentioned about teleconference arrangements across different time-zones and jet lags when one travels across the zones.

Lian was also interested in planes, and we talked a lot about them. One of Lian’s big wish is to take a flight on a Boeing 747. He asked a lot of questions about it… some of them that never ever occurred to me on the many times that I flew on them. Changes my view of things a bit. Now that I am back in Penang, I got hold of a die-cast model of the plane (which I found on lelong.com.my) and sent it to him. As a token of thanks and appreciation to a new friend. I hope he gets, it as the whole of Bario shares one single postal address… the airport. Really!

From the long chats with Lian, I have developed a different view or perspective of life and living environments. More than just the usual ‘we should appreciate what we have’ cliché when coming back from more disadvantaged areas, I could understand and appreciate the plus points of the different living conditions and lifestyle. I guess I’ll just have to say that to each his own preferred lifestyle or environment. But I also think that we have the ability to make the best of what we have, or the environment that we are in. But we also quite easily trap ourselves within that environment once we develop our comfort zone. The trap is more in our minds that anything else. When we think too much, there will be strong resistance to change. But once we are in a new environment, more often than not, we will not only survive, but thrive as well. I guess that is why I feel we should step out of the comfort of what we are familiar with once in a while. It will toughen us up…. I hope.

I, for one could certainly enjoy life in Bario even without the modern amenities. In many ways, I really enjoyed my short stay there. Unlike my trips elsewhere, I really left Bario with a heavy heart. The people there are friendly and genuine. I guess Bario being the last vacation stop before I have to head back to the reality of work also had a hand in it, but it is the connection at a personal level to the people like Nancy, Freda, Lian, etc.. that made a huge difference.

With my new Bario buddies at the Bario Airport, before heading home


I miss Bario and all the folks that I've befriended there already…